Two Republican Senators with military backgrounds took direct public aim at Sen. Tommy Tuberville Wednesday night, aiming barbed and even mocking comments at the Alabama lawmaker while forcing him to stand on the Senate floor 61 times to publicly objectto the promotions of generals and admirals.
“I really respect men of their word. I do not respect men who do not honor their word,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, in one of a long series of barbed comments aimed at Tuberville on the Senate floor. “We have brought forward nearly 60 nominees. Everyone of them has been denied an opportunity.”
Ernst, who represents Iowa, was joined on the floor by Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, who closed the evening with his own acid-laced shot at Tuberville. “My message to our generals and admirals being held up: hang in there,” Sullivan said. “Some of us have your back.”
Ernst and Sullivan spent five hours repeatedly mocking the Alabama lawmaker’s lack of military experience, questioning his personal integrity and forcing him to rise on the Senate floor 61 times to lodge individual objections to the promotions of military officers during a series of heated, late night floor moves.
Ernst is a retired Army Reserve logistics officer and Sullivan a colonel in the Marine Reserves. The two switched off for five hours on nominating 61 of the more than 370 generals Tuberville has blocked from promotion, forcing Tuberville to lodge his 61st and final objection of the night just after 10:40 p.m.
Both said they planned to return to the Senate floor with more nominations — possibly to be met with more objections — in the coming days.
The attack from fellow Republicans represents something of a public dam break against the Alabama senator, who has blocked promotions of all generals and admirals in the military under a blanket hold he placed in February as a protest to a Pentagon abortion-related policy.
Several other Republican Senators, including Lindsey Graham, who served for 33 years as a JAG officer in the Air Force Guard and Reserve, and Mitt Romney gave speeches calling for the end of Tuberville’s hold earlier in the day.
Both Ernst and Sullivan repeatedly pointed out that Tuberville’s in-person, one-at-a-time blocks appeared to be at odds with his previous statements — including one posted on X just hours before the hearing — that he would allow and even welcome individual votes on each nominee.
Each time the two Republicans nominated a general, they spent several minutes reading the officer’s bio, emphasizing combat awards and other accomplishments in each background.
Sullivan’s nomination of Air Force Brig. Gen. Mitchell Hanson for a promotion to Maj. Gen. was typical.
Sullivan described Hanson’s career as a pilot, and heaped praise on Hanson for a medal he earned providing close air support to an infantry unit taking fire on the ground in Afghanistan.
He then finished the nomination with a sarcastic comment aimed at Tuberville.
“A great way to say thank you for your service, General Hanson,” Sullivan said. “We’re gonna put you in the icebox.”
After completing his comments, Sullivan asked for Hanson to receive a vote under unanimous consent rules, a process under Senate rules that waves a multi-day waiting period for a vote.
Tuberville has maintained that his use of senate rules to place his hold technically does not target the generals themselves but rather targets the unanimous conset process and the shortened voting periods.
But Ernst and Sullivan showed no signs of letting their fellow Republican senator off the hook for the holds on technical grounds.
They both frequently punctuated their commentaries with pointed comments like “those of us who have served” or charging that “those who have not served” would not fully understand the sacrifices and pressures the nominated generals are under.
Tuberville never served in the military, spending three decades prior to the Senate as a football coach.
Both Republican senators repeatedly brought up their own anti-abortion views and legislative record.
“No one is more pro-life than I am, no one is more pro-military than I am,” Ernst said. “I have served and I have borne a child.”
Both Senators spoke extensively on the cost to families of senior officers under Tuberville’s hold. Spouses had lost jobs due to impending but delayed moves, while children, said Ernst, had been disenrolled from schools but could not enroll in a new school without a permanent address.
Sullivan said many generals and admirals are paying out of their own pocket to store household goods that otherwise would have been moved by the military months ago if the officer’s promotion or new job had been approved.
“These are my peers,” Sullivan said. “They say, ‘you know what, seven deployments, tough on the wife and kids, now I’m caught in this thing I have nothing to do with.’ They tell me, ‘You know what, I’m punching out.’’
In nominating Marine Col. Richard Joyce for his first star, Sullivan noted that Joyce was a Cobra attack helicopter pilot.
“The Chinese, Putin, Xi Jinping,” Sullivan said, affecting a voice. “They’re gonna be like, ‘Oh my god, I’m so scared’ of a Marine like this. He’d come over and kick the- you know what out of the Chinese and the Russians. ’We’re driving him out of the Marine Corps.”
The latest on Task & Purpose
- Marines investigating video in which man claims body buried at Camp Lejeune
- The best MRE of the War on Terror, according to combat veterans
- 19 US troops have Traumatic Brain Injury after drone attacks in Iraq and Syria
- US expects Iran to continue to escalate Israel/Hamas war
- Fort Liberty special operations soldiers arrested for drug possession